Julie Klausner is best known as the creator of “Difficult People”, the Hulu sitcom in which she plays one half of a duo intent upon seeing only the worst in people. “Difficult People” is a fearless show, the kind that probably wouldn’t exist if network television were still the only player in the game. Like her creation, Klausner is not afraid to push boundaries, call out the hypocrites, and embody what it means to be a modern feminist.
But modern feminists don’t come to be in a vacuum and on Tuesday, Klausner published an op-ed in Slate, paying homage to one of the modern feminists who came before her — sex columnist Cynthia Heimel, who passed away on February 25 at the age of 70. Heimel is responsible for such works of art as “Sex Tips for Girls” and “If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?”
“In her columns and books, Cynthia reassured smart 1980s women, all of them certain they were victims of a sociopathic patriarchal conspiracy, that ‘with all of these sex-role upheavals, men are a mess. They’ve been taught all their lives to act one way, and suddenly. they’re told they must act completely differently,’” wrote Klausner of her hero.
Klausner goes on to detail the day she finally met Heimel in the West Village. They spent the afternoon of Klausner’s dreams walking around talking about “writing, dating, and everything in the world.”
Heimel, who became the first woman writing for women at Playboy Magazine after being deemed too edgy for traditional women’s magazines and too boy crazy for the alternative ones, died in California at home less than a decade after making Klausner’s acquaintance but the effect she had on this new modern feminist was profound.
“Cynthia would want us to lean on each other,” Klausner wrote. “She’d remind us that competitiveness between girls was just a toxic notion designed in a 1950s lab to manipulate us. She point out to us mopey lonely hearts that love takes all forms, from romance to friendship to the look in a big black lab mix’s eyes when you meet him in the shelter.”
Valuable lessons even for the most modern feminist among us.
Becky Scott is the editor of The Schmooze. Follow her on Twitter, @arr_scott